Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
By J.K. Rowling
This is my favorite book in the series, and before I tell you why, there will be spoilers so feel free to look away now if you don’t want to know.
First, the short re-cap: Harry is off to his third year at Hogwarts, and before he gets there, blows up his aunt like a balloon, worries that he might be expelled, takes the Knight Bus to London, learns that a madman named Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban, finds out that Sirius is after him, and that he may not be safe even at Hogwarts.
I love this book for so many reasons. Aunts blowing up, Knight Buses, werewolves, dementors, boggarts, Quidditch, Firebolts, and Maurader’s Maps, ahh, yes, we’re back at Hogwarts. Let’s start with a favorite, Professor Lupin. He, for the first time, teaches the students practical applications in his Defense Against the Dark Arts class and his classes add a lightness to an otherwise gloomy year with dementors and escaped killers running around. Lupin teachers Harry new skills and gives him hints into his parents’ lives from the perspective of an old friend. He’s kind and a friend to Harry when he needs one. The dementors are a dark turn in this book and become, sadly, a way for Harry to connect with his parents. The attacks on him cause him to grow stronger though and he uses the sadness that he didn’t know existed, to move forward. Hagrid, now the teacher of the Care of Magical Creatures class, is still finding odd things to harbor. And it is thanks to Hagrid that we get to meet Buckbeak the Hippogriff, creatures I just adore for some reason. Hermione is still being her good self in this book and when she causes Harry’s new Firebolt broom to be confiscated for fear that it might be cursed, she makes no friends and even I get annoyed at her. Does she not know the Quidditch season it right around the corner? And then there is Sirius. He’s a dark figure in Harry’s past and one he didn’t even know existed. He’s Harry godfather, a fact Harry never knew until this book. One thing that does annoy me — when Sirius explains everything and offers Harry the chance to come and live with him, Harry jumps at it. He doesn’t know this person and it just shows you how quick he is to make decisions before thinking about anything. Harry? Really? Yes, I know the Dursley’s are awful people but this man just escaped from prison, and while I like him too, give it a second will you.
I realized while reading this book that I remembered the ending from the movie better than the book. The incident with Hermione’s time turner is much different and I was pleased by this happy little discovery and was trying to figure out where it was going the whole time I was reading. It’s nice to be surprised by books you’re read before.
I also forgot that Hermione doesn’t get Crookshanks until this book. For some reason, I just always thought of the cat as there but it’s really not until the third book that he arrives and plays a much larger part than I remembered. Poor Scabbers though. While I don’t feel anything nice for Peter Pettigrew, I did feel for Ron having to watch his rat deteriorate.
The Prisoner of Azkaban is where I feel the story begins to take a turn and you know that no one is safe anywhere. Sirius’s escape is even announced on the muggle news which is a warning that Hogwarts or not, there is no safe place. The dementors with their soul sucking abilities remind the students that life will not always be filled with joy.
And to end this — Snape, still disliking him greatly.